Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's have both reconfirmed Lower Merion Township's Triple-A Bond Credit Rating with a stable outlook, the highest rating attainable. Should municipal bond market conditions remain favorable, the Township plans to hold a competitive bond sale on February 20th, and seek approximately $10 million in new money to fund capital improvements in 2013-2014.
"We are thrilled to once again go to market with the strongest of ratings," said Dean Dortone, Chief Financial Officer. "We anticipate that many lenders will respond to our bond sale with very competitive interest rates - likely the lowest offered by the market that day."
Standard & Poor's assessment noted strong financial management, which has led to the maintenance of what the rating agency regards as "strong finances and very strong reserves." The rating agency called Lower Merion's financial management practices "strong" under its Financial Management Assessment methodology, indicating practices are strong, well embedded, and likely sustainable.
Dortone coordinated presentations by Township financial advisor Public Financial Management (PFM), which included conference calls with Moody's and Standard & Poor's. "In awarding the Triple-A, the rating agencies cited the Township's deep and diverse property tax base, reflected in extremely strong per capita market values, strong financial management and low direct debt levels as a percent of market value," said Doug Cleland, Township Manager.
"Year after year, Lower Merion receives this very exclusive rating, and it is a credit to the day-in and day-out financial leadership of our Township," stated Board Vice-President Paul McElhaney, Chair of the Finance Committee.
Lower Merion Township is the only municipality in Pennsylvania - and one of only six Townships in the United States - with a Triple-A credit rating from both of the largest rating agencies. Only Princeton, Bernards, Mahwah and Mendham townships in New Jersey and Bloomfield Township in Michigan share this with Lower Merion.
"This is great news for the Township - we get to borrow money at the lowest possible interest rates the market will bear and make critical capital improvements," added Board President Elizabeth Rogan. "Our healthy reserve levels, combined with the excellent management of the Township's finances and capital improvement program, cannot be underestimated. Lower Merion Township sells bonds to fund its Capital Improvement Program projects and spread the cost over the life of those projects."
Links to the Standard & Poor's and Moody's assessments of Lower Merion Township will be found on the Township website, at http://www.lowermerion.org/Index.aspx?page=57.